Musician claims he was fired for ‘conservative’ views on Black Lives Matter

By: - October 6, 2021 2:38 pm

A former member of the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra is suing the organization, claiming he was fired for expressing commonly held conservative beliefs about the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Samuel Sianipar via Unsplash)

A former member of the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra is suing the organization, claiming he was fired for expressing commonly held conservative beliefs about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yuri Grankin, who now lives in Boynton Beach, Fla., alleges in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that he was fired in July 2020 by the orchestra’s executive director, Brian Baxter. The lawsuit alleges the termination, after 16 years of employment, was based on allegations of “racially disparaging remarks and content” that he was accused of sharing with others via his Facebook page.

Grankin, a violinist, claims that the official explanation for his dismissal was pretextual because other employees of the QCSO frequently shared similar views on social media platforms without consequence.

Grankin alleges the comments he posted online “were simply statements of verifiable facts and mainstream conservative positions expressed mostly via memes.” He says many of the posts – none of which are described in any detail in the court documents – were written by people of color, and that in his own comments he always argued for what he sees as “equal treatment” of all races.

Grankin says one of the memes he posted alleged that while Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the 1860s, he was denounced as a racist by members of Black Lives Matter in 2020.

He also alleges his termination was based on his national origin, as he grew up in the 1980s-era Soviet Union. He claims that people with his background are wary of the “extreme left because they have lived in dystopian societies that have tried these ideas.” He adds that due to the discrimination he has faced in life, he grew to be “vehemently opposed” to groups like Black Lives Matter “with their extremist agenda and violent means of achieving it.”

The lawsuit seeks damages of $1.5 million as compensation for projected future lost earnings as a musician.

The QCSO has yet to file a response to the lawsuit. Baxter could not be reached for comment.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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